Motherhood: Is THIS it?

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Most days on this journey of motherhood I recognize just how sacred this task is. This task of raising little people. I understand that it is big, and important, and it DOES make a difference. Most days, if you were to ask me, that’s what I would tell you.

BUT, then there are those days. Those days like today when I breathe deep, toss my hands to the heavens, and in the most frustrated of tones questions God.

 While holding back the tears, I dare whisper these words to my Creator…. “Are. You. Serious. God?”

I’m looking at my life, my dreams, my gifts. I mean, I desperately want to be a world changer. I want to write a book. I want to travel to other countries. I want to REALLY live life to the fullest. I want to undoubtedly make a difference with these days I am given.

“God, I’ll sing, I’ll speak, I’ll write. I’ll do whatever you want, but are you sure this is IT?!?”

THIS is my calling?!?!

Wiping butts, and fixing meals, and picking up crushed up off-brand cheese flavored crackers off the floor for the third time this week. I wake each morning to clean the same messes over and over again, only for them to be undone in a matter of minutes. And then, I give my day, my hours and my moments, desperately trying.  Trying to help and teach and appease these little people, who really have absolutely no understanding of what I am giving.

I look at my life on these days where the frustration runs deep, and my heart grows discontent. I look at these weeks where it seems I do and do and do, what no one else sees, what no one else recognizes.

And, if I’m honest, in those moments, I don’t get it. I don’t understand why I am here neck deep in this thing called motherhood. Why raising these little people and keeping this house in some semi- recognizable manner feels so all consuming. More difficult than anyone ever let on.

May I be so bold as to question the God of the universe? May I be so bold as to say that I feel like I’m wasting away here? Like my talents and my gifts aren’t being utilized, like my passions are just sitting here waiting to come to life……

But, God.

God in His infinite wisdom and understanding speaks to my heart in the way only a humble Father can.

You see, when it feels like I do what no one sees, He sees.

When it feels like I work and work, yet no one knows it, He knows.

The Creator God looks down upon me in the midst of my days and he sees it all. He NEVER leaves my side. Not when I’m sweeping the floor, or cooking the meal, or teaching that kid how to tie their shoes. He sees me when I’m feeding that baby AGAIN, loading what seems like the 1800th load of laundry for the day or whispering that lesson into the ear of a little one.  And here, now, as I question my purpose. As I wander if any of it even matters at all. As frustrated tears well in my eyes, He’s here.

And, He reminds me that it is not wasted. Not one single moment.

Because if nothing else is gained on these days that seem futile, I am.

He is making me. Redeeming me. Refining me.

2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

 

My Meaningless Life

Meaningless.jpgI have to make a confession.

Recently, I have found myself in a place of wanting. A place where I wish for more, for different. A place where jealousy can easily entangle my heart. 

And I look at the world around me, thinking to myself IF ONLY.

If only I could travel the world; take that romantic getaway with my husband, experience that tropical vacation I’ve been longing for, show my children the majesty of the mountain summits and the roar of the Ocean.

If only I could be an adventurer; traveling to third world countries, bringing food, and Bibles, and love.

If only I could experience the fine dining that the world has to offer; to taste the delicacies.

If only I had a nicer home, or a more well kept yard.

If only I could get that book published, the one I’ve been dreaming about. If only I could speak to the masses. If only my name would be known by more than the 15 people who read my occasional blog posts.

And, if only I had the bank account balance to make it all be, without guilt, and without stress.

THEN, I could be happy. Fulfilled, not wanting for anything more.

(SIGH)

Meaningless.

I remember the words of a wise man in Ecclesiastes.

Meaningless, it’s all meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

You see, none of the things I mentioned in and of themselves are wrong. Most are positive things to dream about, to hope for.

The problem is when I buy into the lie that these things will fulfill me. That these things will make me happy.

You see, if I am unfulfilled today, in this place where God has put me, then I need more of Him. Today, I need Jesus. But, instead my stubborn heart is wandering again. My heart decides just maybe the world has something to offer me that can satisfy my restless places.  

But it doesn’t.

Meaningless. Without Him first, it’s ALL meaningless. Even the really GOOD stuff.

God, let me be an adventurer. Let me be a world changer. Let me live this day you’ve given me to the fullest. BUT, above all else, let me know you, let me love you, let me need you.

You are my source of fulfillment.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Failing Motherhood (And why I want my kids to know.)

FailingMotherhood.jpgLately, more than ever, I have felt like there’s not enough of me.

As a mom, I have felt like on some level I am failing.

Because my little one is having seizures, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them.

And, amidst the specialist appointments, and ambulance rides, and normal day to day responsibilities, it has felt heavy. This burden of motherhood has felt like a larger burden than I am accustomed to carrying.

And then, I realize that along the ride, my other kids have had to take a back seat.

And I feel guilty.

I feel guilty that those regular daily pre-school lessons have suddenly stopped.

I feel guilty because I spend more time holding that baby and less time snuggling with my big babies.

And then, if I do the opposite, I feel guilty that the baby has not been held more.

I feel guilty because my lap is not big enough for all of them. And my energy level does not always allow me to run and play like I have in the past. And, there have been no planned activities or extra outings.

And, I am tired, but when I finally dose off for a nap, I feel guilty, because what if that little one has a seizure while I sleep.

I feel guilty because my 3 year old has eaten nothing today besides the chips he sneakily grabs from the cabinet while I’m nursing the baby, or changing a diaper.

And, I think How am I supposed to do this?

How am I supposed to meet the needs of 3 little people at one time?

I take a moment for myself to breathe, and then I feel guilty all over again, because moms are not supposed to get moments to themselves to breathe, are they?

Even as I write these words, the guilt overwhelms me.

I can never be enough for them.

But, that’s it. Isn’t it?

I can NEVER be enough for them.

I can NEVER fix all of their problems, no matter how badly I want to.

I can NEVER love them enough to fulfill all the love that they need.

Because I’m just me. I’m a flawed, messed up person, who happens to be blessed with the task of mothering these babies.

So, today I stop trying to be enough.

Maybe it’s OK for them to see that I’m not. For them to know that I am going to let them down.

Because my hope is, that in my failure, I point them to the one who will never fail them.

That in my insufficiency, I point them to the one who is sufficient, unwaivering, ENOUGH.

May they see my weakness, and in that, seek His strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

When God Says NO

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Recently, my 3 month old daughter had a seizure.

It was terrifying.

BUT, I prayed and deep in my heart I believed this would never happen again. MY mind never even went there. This was a crazy fluke one-time thing.

And that was that. Faith. That’s what I called it.

Then, it happened. Seizure #2.

So what happens now, in these moments when we desperately pray and we believe with our whole hearts, and still God does not answer?

What about my grandpa, who died early, even though I urgently begged God and believed that he would be healed on this earth?

And, what about my friend Matt, who got in a car accident and is parlayed from the waist down, even though I have cried out to God for his healing hundreds of times?

And, what about that little boy I know who died of brain cancer, even though I prayed believing my God could heal his broken body?

And, that girl I went to high school with whose medical tests came back with worse case scenario results, instead of the answer I had been praying for?

I mean, my list could go on and on.

SO, what now?

What happens in those moments when you have prayed your guts out and your faith is so big you just know God will do what you ask…. But then, He doesn’t?

I will be honest and say it’s an extremely hard place to be. Because I know the Scripture about asking in faith and receiving, And the verse that says if you have faith, even the tiniest amount, you can tell the mountain to move and God will move it.

I’ve heard the sermons. Read the books.

But, here I am. The answer that I asked for slid right through my fingers and I’m left standing before my maker with empty hands.

To be honest, I don’t get it. I don’t understand the WHY.

So, now, what do I say about this God that I serve? The One who didn’t do what I thought He would.

If you’ve been in this situation where you asked, and you believed, and then you were left stunned by the response God gave, you know that there isn’t a good answer.

I could get mad. Try to reason. Cry my heart out. Get discouraged. All of which I have done already.

And then, I can say this of my God. I trust Him. I don’t understand Him. I wish with all my heart He would have answered the way I wanted Him to.

Regardless, I trust Him.

Why? I guess because I KNOW Him. I KNOW His love. I KNOW the way He graciously and intricately has planned out my life, each of our lives. I KNOW that He is GOOD, and faithful. I know that I am only getting the smallest glimpse of the big picture story that is being written.

SO, today, if you are like me, and you asked, but God said no, or not yet, or I’m doing something else instead, I encourage you to trust Him. Get mad, cry, tell Him you’re frustrated. BUT then, TRUST HIM.

Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true. He is faithful in all He does.”

My Sunday School Jesus

my ss Jesus

Recently, I found myself sitting in a Good Friday service at my church with my 4 year old snuggled on my lap.

This service was intended as a time to remember the sacrifice Christ made for us, and sure enough, right there amidst the Scripture reading, the drama, and the touching music, a video clip was played. This was one of those really gut wrenching clips, the ones that make you come to grasp with the reality of what Jesus actually faced.

My Jesus, the King, was pictured beaten. Raw open wounds all over his unclothed body, blood dripping from the thorns pierced in his forehead. The clip played out His struggle as He was forced to carry upon His shoulder the weight of the cross, the very thing that would take His life. The sound of the nails piercing through his wrists was cringe worthy.

And, there I was, with this little girl on my lap. I found myself desperately wanting to keep her from this. I wanted her to turn her head. It took everything within me to not reach up and cover her eyes, or plug her little ears to keep her from knowing. To keep her from seeing the brutality of what REALLY took place.

The strange thing is my 4 year old already knows this story. She knows about Jesus. She knows that He was beaten, that He died. She knows that he hung upon a cross for our sins.

Still I wanted to shield her from the excruciating truth of what that really meant. Because it’s much “nicer” to think of Jesus like the pictures we see in Sunday school. It’s much more gentle and calming and less likely to prick at my conscious if I remember my Jesus un-bruised, un-bloody, peacefully hanging on a cross.

And, sadly, I think it was more me.

I didn’t want to see.

I didn’t want to remember.

Because it’s heartbreaking to think that He endured the cross for my sin.

Because when I remember, I can no longer go through my day pretending like I don’t know.

And sadly, sometimes, I think my 4 year old understand it better than I can.

Jesus gave it all. He loved me enough to pay that price, and though I want to remember him as this meek picturesque Jesus hanging on a poster like I saw in Sunday school, that’s not the reality.

May I remember today the truth of what He gave up, the pain He went through just so that I could know Him, and the life that was lost simply so I could have life. And, may I never again take that for granted. 

Thank you Lord for your sacrifice. Never let me forget.

Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

 

I’m NOT Enough

enough

I shut the car door and with a deep sigh lay my head down upon the sun warmed steering wheel. It had been a long day. I was tired. My kids had struggled. My husband and I were bickering.

The tears began to trickle from my eyes.

You are simply NOT enough, I thought to myself.

You are not a good enough wife, or a good enough mom. You are certainly not a good enough friend. Your house is not clean enough, and there is never ENOUGH laundry done. Your garden has not been kept up enough, and your front lawn is not mowed enough. Your kids are not well behaved enough. Your house is not organized enough, and your brain doesn’t work well enough.

Enough.

The word scrolled through my head like a 1990’s computer screen saver that wouldn’t stop.

How can I possibly BE ENOUGH? I felt alone and hopeless in that moment. For, I felt weary from giving all that I could already.

And then, these words came to mind, “You are not alone.”

“Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Don’t be intimidated; I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

You see, on my own I will never be enough. It’s impossible. But, with my God, who never leaves me, I am ENO UGH.

I am ENOUGH because He looked down and He chose me.

I am ENOUGH because He poured out his very life that I might live.

I am ENOUGH because He is my strength and my helper.

I am ENOUGH because I belong to the King of the universe.

And, you my friend, with Him on your side, you are ENOUGH too.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Stepping Back & Finding Beauty

Snapshot 1 Lurking in the shadows of the dimly lit hall, I stood, peeking around the corner into the dining room. That’s where I saw it. At first glance it was the norm, but as I stood back for a minute, I saw beauty. There was my life taking place right before my eyes.

Just moments earlier, I found myself entangled in the stress and frustration of everyday life; the bills that needed to be paid, and the house that once more needed to be picked up, and the kids who also had an endless list of needs to be met. It engulfed my heart. And, there in the midst of my drowning, my voice was raised, and my temper was short.

Just moments earlier, I had given my husband a piece of my mind. I had left the room because the weariness of my heart was overwhelming me. My life, these hours, and days, and weeks, it felt hard. It felt overtaking. It felt exhausting. It felt like too much.

And, because I was entangled in the too much, I lost sight of the SO much.

I was lost amidst the winding roads of self pity. I was wandering down the dangerous path of discontentment. My vision had only one focus, the negative. I saw disobedient children, and an ungrateful husband, a dirty house, and an empty bank account. And, it didn’t really matter if those were true realities or not. That is what I saw. That is what I felt.

But, there was SO much more taking place. My life is SO much more.

As I glanced around the corner and just stood back to observe, it was as if the Lord moved back the blinders that once hindered my vision.

I saw a husband, who was in the kitchen, helping to prepare the dinner that we would soon eat, the food that we never lack. The sound of music danced into my ears as I observed my kids, two healthy, beautiful kids. They twirled and danced about, dragging their daddy onto the dance floor a time or two. Their smiles and giggles melted away the hardness in my heart.  I saw a home, a safe place. I saw love, and hope. Hope that broke through and gave life once more.

It was as if stepping back allowed me to take a snap shot of my life, like the black and white photos of a family slide show. I pictured the memories that were being made, the family that was being built, and I treasured this picture in my heart.

So, I have started stepping back more often. Just watching.  Watching this life unfold. Taking snap shots of the beauty that so often eludes me amidst the days that feel hard.

My challenge to you? Step back, my friend. Look at your life. Even amidst the most difficult, the most frustrating, the most overwhelming moments, there is beauty. He is redeeming the moments. He is making the broken places new. He is creating beauty even when your heart is ugly. He is working.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time…”

With Love,

Sarah

Simplicity: Why I Said NO to Advent Calendars, Christmas Cards, and My Shopping List

 

You all already know that I have an immense love for this time of year and all the warm fuzzy traditions and events that take place. I enjoy baking Christmas cookies with my kids. I enjoy shopping for my loved ones. I enjoy a good candle light Christmas Eve service.

It all makes me feel so giddy inside.

So you can imagine my delight as I scrolled through my pinterest page to see post upon post (or pin upon pin?) of fun creative ways to celebrate Christmas every day in December by doing an advent calendar with my family. Many of these are geared for families with kids and include gifts and scheduled activities daily- baking cookies for the neighbor, buying a gift for a friend, adopting a family for Christmas, reading a particular Christmas book together, decorating ornaments, the list of joy filled activities are endless.

My mind immediately raced to all the fun it would be! My expectations of days filled with nothing but holiday cheer were at a high.

And then, something happened. Life got real.

As a mom with 2 little ones to take care of, a home to clean, meals to cook, multiple ministry responsibilities, and the craziness that can already become the month of December, I had to ask myself, “why?”.

WHY would you put that extra burden upon yourself? That extra responsibility that will likely bring more stress than joy for you in this phase of your life?

And so, I said NO to daily advent activities.

And, I began asking myself the same question about other holiday responsibilities.“Will this likely bring you more stress, or more joy?” If the answer is stress, than, the answer is NO.

SO, I said NO to Christmas cards, something that I have stressed about falling short on ever since starting our own family.

And, I said NO to that long list of people who I was buying presents for simply because I felt obligated.

Am I saying you should not participate in a daily advent calendar? Or send out beautiful Christmas cards? Or buy gifts for everyone you know?

Not necessarily, but I am asking you to consider the question. Will this likely bring me more stress, or more joy?

christmas lights

Enjoy the things that bring you joy this season! Be willing to give to those you feel led to give to! Make memories with your family on your own terms! I’m willing to bet your Christmas will be brighter if you start asking this simple question: “Will this likely bring me more stress, or more joy?”

Wishing you a joy filled Christmas!

Sarah Lango

Choosing Joy: 3 Tips for Letting Go of Your Holiday Expectations

holiday dinner

I’m not a big fall/winter person, but one thing I do love about this time of year is the holiday season. I look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas all year long. The smell of fresh pumpkin baked goods wafting through the air, hot cocoa, Christmas movies, glimmering lights… awe, how it makes my heart skip with glee.

And, while there is nothing wrong with looking forward to this holiday season, the long awaited time of year often breeds a whole list of expectations in my heart and mind. A list that sounds fabulous, but realistically will never fully come to fruition.

And, when I allow these expectations to take root, I am then disappointed. I become discontent.  If I’m not careful, this time of year that I have looked forward to for so long can waist away while I relish in frustration.  

You see, if it were up to me, the next month of my life would look something like this:

Family gatherings filled with scrumptious juicy turkey and all the fixings, games and laughter with family. We would go around the room mentioning all the blessings we have, sipping on coffee and enjoying the spread of delicious desserts, without the stress of cooking the food, cleaning the house, preparing plates for picky children, cleaning up more messes, fighting with toddlers who desperately need naps, and the drama that family gatherings can sometime provide.

The weeks following Thanksgiving would be filled with romantic dates with my husband- ice skating, fancy dinners, and lots of Christmas lights. Family activities- putting up the Christmas tree, decorating Christmas cookies, holiday crafts, and evenings sipping on hot chocolate watching my favorite Christmas movies. Long enjoyable days of shopping where I find the perfect gift for each person on my list, wrapping each gift beautifully to place under my perfectly decorated tree, while watching the latest holiday special.

And of course it WILL snow on Christmas and we will all gleefully spend the afternoon building snowmen, sledding, and partaking in a snowball fight, only to warm up by the fireplace (which we do not have) and sip on more warm beverages.

Oh, what a joyful time it will be!

BUT, the reality is, this is NOT reality.

As my husband would say, I may have watched too many Hallmark holiday films.

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The reality is my unrealistic expectations will set my heart up for disappointment.

AND, the truth is, most of what I mentioned has absolutely NOTHING to do with the reason that we celebrate throughout this holiday season.

SO, what’s a girl like me to do?

Here are some tips to keep your holiday season full of joy no matter what does or does not come your way:

1.Plan and schedule activities ahead of time. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to doing some special and fun things with family throughout this holiday season. If these things are on the calendar well in advance, they are more likely to happen!

2.Be flexible. Hate to break it to you, but this time of year is well, NOT about you. Take some time to find out what things your family would enjoy doing this Christmas season and be willing release some of the things you desire.

3.Let it go! Let it go! No, really, let it go already. Let go of those expectations. Step back and think about what is realistic and what is not, and move forward with a new mindset.

4.Most importantly, focus on the reason for the season. Sounds corny, I know. BUT it’s sooo true. This season is not about glimmering lights, and presents, and food. It is about Jesus. It’s about all that He has given us. It’s about His love and generosity. Don’t forget!

Happy Thanksgiving!

With Love,

Sarah

When My Keys Are Lost: Wading Through The Frustration

frustration

I woke early to the sound of my alarm clock this morning, an unusual occurrence, but one that was necessary as I knew I needed to get myself showered and ready before the kids awoke. I had an early appointment scheduled, plus an hour drive to get there, and the time it took to get the kids off to my aunts who would be watching over them while I was gone.

Running right on schedule, I woke the kids up so they could have a few minutes to watch cartoons and awake their sleepy little eyes before the eating, dressing, brushing teeth, and out the door routine that needed to occur.

Thirty minutes later the kids were dressed, shoes on, tummies full, buckled in their car seats. I had already made multiple trips to grab my purse, diaper bag, O and let’s not forget the sippy cups.

“Still running right on time,” I thought proudly to myself (let’s be honest, this is a rarity!)

I sat in my car seat and my hand made its way to ignition, but there was a problem. No keys.

My husband usually drives my car, but had left it for me today since I had such a long drive to my appointment.

Many times he leaves the keys in the car, so I checked there first. Cup holder? Nope. Center console? Nope. Door panel? Nope. I checked every opening, & compartment, on the floor, under the seats… Nowhere to be found.

I then quickly headed inside where I dumped my purse and diaper bag on the floor. No keys.

Hmmm, what about on the dresser? Nope. The kitchen counter? Nope. On the shelf by the front door? Not there. The catch all basket on the table? Not there either.

I’m now frantically running through the house, tearing apart each room piece by piece searching for the car keys.

“Lord, if the keys are in this house, please help me find them,” I desperately prayed.

keys

 

 

 

 

A quick call to my husband confirmed that he was in possession of the main set of keys, “should be a spare set somewhere,” he said.

I looked, and looked, and looked until the time on the clock had slowly wasted away and I knew I would no longer be able to make it to my appointment.

I was frustrated to the point of tears.

All of this for nothing. My plans for the day had been flushed down the toilet. And, I was left disappointed, discourage, and frustrated.

I called my aunt to let her know we wouldn’t make it, and then I called to cancel my appointment.

Now what?

In that moment, I knew I had to make a decision.

I could do as I have done many days before. I could choose to set up tent, and I could live in that frustration all day long. I could choose to be dissatisfied. I could take out my frustration on my husband and on my kids. I could get to the end of this day and be so glad it was over.

OR I could make a choice. I could choose to wade through the frustrating moment and then move on.

I could make a choice to embrace the extra moments we would have at home. I could make a choice to be happy, and content, and move on with my day as if this mess of frustration never happened.

In my humanness and my tears I kinda wanted to just stay in that place. In that mucky mess of frustration.

But, in my heart I knew what choice I had to make. And so, I waded through my emotions and put the pit of frustration behind me.

I enjoyed my day with my kids. I was happy with the extra things I was able to accomplish. And, I chose to be content.

My friend, have you ever been in that mucky pit of frustration? You know you should wade through, but it’s just easier to stay there and wallow.

Let me encourage you, you have a choice. Next time you find yourself wallowing in the muck of your frustrating circumstance, won’t you make a choice? A choice to wade through and move forward and not let frustration have a hold on your day.

The choice is yours!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ” Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. “